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France coach Raymond Domenech in surprisingly cautious mood ahead of Euro 2008 opener

France coach Raymond Domenech in surprisingly cautious mood ahead of Euro 2008 opener

France coach Raymond Domenech has sounded surprisingly cautious so far at the European Championship.
With France being among the tournament favorites, fans expect nothing less than a win against Romania on Monday _ but Domenech has yet to make any bold predictions even about winning that match, let alone the tournament itself on June 29.
"I really don't know what favorite means," Domenech said. "We have a good team, so there's no reason why we shouldn't go as far as possible. But that doesn't necessarily mean we'll be champions of Europe."
The same Domenech predicted France would reach the World Cup final two years ago, and only recently tipped a France-Germany final with Les Bleus coming out on top for a third European title.
But now, he does not say France has a better chance than either Romania, Netherlands or Italy to qualify for the quarterfinals.
"All the teams are equal," Domenech said. "No one knows who has the best chance as we haven't stared the games yet."
First up are the Romanians, with classy players such as striker Adrian Mutu _ scorer of 17 goals for Fiorentina this season _ and Inter Milan defender Cristian Chivu likely to pose a stern test.
"The Romanians qualified ahead of the Netherlands, so I don't see why we they would be weaker all of a sudden," Domenech said. "The whole Romanian team is good, with good players. The Italians have (good players), so do the Dutch, and the French."
To increase his team's chances of progressing, Domenech has afforded the best preparation possible to the players.
High up in the Swiss hills in Vevey, France's Mirador-Kempinski hotel offers total seclusion from intrusive media or star-watching fans.
"We are really cut off from the world because we are high in the clouds. We can't even see the lake (Geneva) below," Domenech said. "We have the room to move around, we're not all treading on each other all day long. Everyone is prepared for the matches to come."
However, playing cards, table-tennis or video games may become repetitive for some players after a while.
Tough luck, says Domenech.
"Someone who comes to a European Championship and feels bored because he's in a hotel for two days should go home," Domenech said. "We hope to be here for one month."
With Patrick Vieira out injured for the Romania game with a small left thigh tear, and fitness doubts over other key players like William Gallas and Willy Sagnol, Domenech is racing against time to get his best team ready.
Press officer Yann Le Guillard said Saturday that the team could wait until as late as Monday morning before deciding whether to keep Vieira or replace him with Mathieu Flamini.
Striker Thierry Henry and winger Franck Ribery have been having lighter sessions with the team's physical trainer, Robert Duverne, but only to avoid taking any risks ahead of the Romania match.
Meanwhile, Midfielder Samir Nasri skipped a press briefing because he was feeling "nauseous", Le Guillard said, without explaining further.


Updated : 2021-05-07 21:17 GMT+08:00